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Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has hired former President Trump’s White House political director, Brian Jack, to lead his own political operation, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The move to bring on Jack underscores McCarthy's strategy of keeping Trump and his orbit close as Republicans seek to retake the House majority in 2022 — and McCarthy achieves his personal goal of becoming speaker.

The backdrop: Jack is one of a small group that worked for Trump through his entire journey — from his 2016 campaign to his final flight on Air Force One.

  • McCarthy (R-Calif.) met Jack through Trump and sees him as an asset for fundraising and recruitment, as well as strategy.
  • Jack remains connected to Trump, who viewed him as his go-to guy for congressional elections during the last cycle.
  • Jack previously held top roles at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Republican National Committee and has worked with several GOP campaigns.

What we're hearing: Talks about a potential job in McCarthy's office began in December, while Trump was still in office.

  • Jack formally started this month.
  • He was initially considered as a candidate to lead the National Republican Campaign Committee but ultimately opted to work directly for McCarthy.
  • Jack will work closely with NRCC staff, as has been the case with aides to past House Republican leaders.

What they’re saying: “I worked closely with Brian during his four years at The White House,” Richard Hudson, secretary of the GOP conference, told Axios.

  • “He served President Trump exceptionally well, knows what it takes to win Congressional races, and I’m excited he’s working with Leader Kevin McCarthy and our team that will Take Back the House.”

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump’s friends worry legal pick for N.Y. case lacks experience

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Close associates and advisers to Donald Trump tell Axios they're concerned by his decision to use a relatively inexperienced New Jersey attorney, Alina Habba, in his high-stakes legal fight against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Why it matters: A former president typically has access to the country's most prestigious experts, including lawyers. Trump has turned to the former general counsel for a parking garage company, who works from a small law office near his Bedminster, N.J., country club.

U.S. charges 4 Belarus officials with air piracy in journalist's arrest

A Boeing 737-8AS Ryanair passenger planefrom Athens, Greece, that was diverted to Minsk, Belarus, in May. Photo: Petras Malukas/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Thursday charged four Belarusian government officials with conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy as part of an operation to arrest a dissident Belarusian journalist.

Why it matters: Prosecutors say the officials fabricated a bomb threat aboard a Ryanair flight carrying the journalist Raman Pratasevich last May, forcing it to land in Minsk, Belarus instead.

29 mins ago - World

What Putin's Ukraine options look like

Russia President Vladimir Putin confers with defense minister Sergei Shoigu. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty

The Biden administration is framing Russian escalation in Ukraine as almost a foregone conclusion, but the Russians are still at the table and Vladimir Putin may be seeking concessions from the West rather than a military confrontation with Kyiv.

Driving the news: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Friday in Geneva, contended in a speech Thursday from Berlin that Putin's intentions are clear: "He's laying the groundwork for an invasion because he doesn’t believe Ukraine is a sovereign nation."